You Probably Already Have Some Type Of Vaccine Passport
On Monday, the TV personality Dr. Drew wrote on Twitter his opposition to COVID-19 vaccine passports, saying: “These vaccine passports separate people and deprive them of their freedom to travel internationally. Vaccinations are important and I encourage everyone to get the Covid vaccine, but how would you feel if international travel required other vaccinations? “
On Tuesday, he passed it back – but to thousands on Twitter, it seemed like a good question.
While vaccine passports have emerged as the last flashpoint in the COVID-19 pandemic, most people already have some form of documentation confirming that they have been vaccinated against certain diseases. And many public health experts say such evidence will be the key to getting life back to normal, preventing future COVID-19 events.
“People have been suffering for more than a year and they want their lives back,” Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University, told BuzzFeed News. “They want to go to restaurants, watch movies, travel to see their loved ones and return to work. Vaccine passports offer a way to a faster and safer return to normal life. “
As vaccines become more widely available, the prospect of COVID-19 vaccine passports is becoming a reality for many people. The European Union is likely to launch them in June. Israel, which leads the largest nations in vaccines ever administered, has already introduced one. China has too. The United Kingdom is discussing its own version. The state of New York has introduced a voluntary “Excelsior Pass” that shows proof of vaccination or a negative test for access to sporting events, music venues and businesses. At least eight major airlines are working on a coronavirus passport version, as is Walmart.
More than 64 million people, or nearly 1 in 5 Americans, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 so far.
However, the federal government – including Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – has so far made it clear that it will not lead efforts to produce a national vaccine passport. Instead, it seeks to bring together more than a dozen privately owned publications.
Many Republican leaders have denied the allegations, saying they would go too far. On Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning the use of COVID-19 vaccination passports in the state. On Sunday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves told CNN he also opposed them. On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attended.
“A passport is a good idea,” Howard Markel, a pediatrician and medical historian, told BuzzFeed News. “How it has been politicized is very embarrassing and difficult for people in public health to understand.”
This politicization has had a real impact. A recent poll found that only 50% of U.S. residents support a voluntary vaccination verification document.
The debate in the US is in many ways a repetition of discussions about locking and locating contacts. Should people in the US accept restrictions on their personal freedom in the name of public health? Will these temporary measures remain long after they are needed? Will people’s privacy be protected? But the idea of vaccine passports is not new: The US already has a patchwork of private and public agencies that require people to show they have been vaccinated.
“We already have vaccination records in our medical records. Schools keep records of children. Many hospitals reserve them for their staff. “These must be familiar,” Gostin said.
To travel internationally, people must already prove that they have been vaccinated. To enter the US, travelers must provide a vaccination record against 14 diseases in total – including hepatitis A and B, two types of flu, polio and chickenpox. These records are kept in a booklet published by the World Health Organization. The U.S. military, which sends its members around the world, requires about a dozen vaccinations depending on where a person is growing.
Vaccination proof is also required for school enrollment in all 50 states. In Florida, where the governor of DeSantis, children in kindergarten up to the 12th grade must be vaccinated against six diseases. California and Texas each require seven. As vaccination requirements for schools are met at the state level – there is no federal mandate – many states allow the exclusion of personal beliefs or religious exceptions for parents. California is one of the states that lifted such exemptions after a dangerous measles outbreak that started at Disneyland in 2015 hit the state.
As long as vaccines have been given, public health officials require people to prove that they have been vaccinated. As historian Jordan E. Taylor wrote in Time magazine, beginning in the 19th century, US authorities instructed people to show that they had been vaccinated against smallpox. Immigration officials demanded proof of vaccination on Ellis Island in New York and on Angel Island in San Francisco. The companies assigned it as a condition of employment. And during local outbreaks, police would require people to show that they had been vaccinated.
There are real concerns about vaccine passports. Some people worry about their digital rights or privacy breaches. However, Gostin, who wrote a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association on possible ethical issues, said vaccine passports would contain very little information. “Vaccine passports protect your privacy in many ways. “They do not require you to disclose any information, unless you have a vaccine or not,” he wrote.
Others have doubts about the law of requiring proof of vaccination in the United States, as black and Latin communities have so far been vaccinated at disproportionately low rates. Experts take it seriously, but suggested that these concerns be alleviated as vaccines become more widely available.
“Equity cannot be a later thought,” Gostin said. “We cannot have passports while there is a lack of vaccines. Within a month or two, vaccines will hunt humans, not the other way around. Everyone will have a good chance of getting it. “
Public health experts said it was understandable if people felt confident about vaccine passports and encouraged them to talk to healthcare providers if they had any questions.
“My suggestion is to consult your doctor or the WHO or CDC websites,” Markel said. “Have a good conversation with your doctor. We do not want to intimidate people. “